My First Volunteering Experience
By Mariam N.
I’ve always been intimidated by volunteering. Volunteering is something that I found as an exciting idea but never had the right time or courage to do. Last March, I was selected as an applicant for the National Junior Honor Society (NJHS). This was a very proud moment for me. In order to be accepted into NJHS, I was required to have 6 hours of volunteering. That is when things got complicated. I have always been an extroverted person; I love social interactions very much. Unfortunately, it has been a very long time since that extroverted side of me saw the light of day for an extended amount of time.
On a trip to the grocery store, I thought of all the possible volunteering options available. I would like to add that I had one week to submit the application, and was notified in the same week, so my excitement immediately turned into stress. Suddenly, I had a light bulb moment! The library! Of course! I have been trying to volunteer there forever but never really persisted in applying. I researched the public library hours and told my parents about the predicament I was in. Everything was planned out–this Monday I would ask them to help out.
Monday came and I visited the library. It turns out that I had to wait until the day after because the manager didn’t come to work that day. I had to leave my name and number, sign papers, and complete paperwork. That was probably the biggest moment to this day that said “Mariam, you’re not a child anymore.” I came back on Tuesday and was finally able to start helping out. I felt very strange at first, but I was assigned to stack the “For Sale” books in boxes so that is what I did for 1.5 hours on Tuesday. I came back on Wednesday and did the same thing for 2 hours.
The library ladies were so sweet and gentle. They taught me so many things about books and authors. Every day I would go home feeling like I a literature expert. We would sit around each other, working and telling stories. I called my friend sitting closest to me, Ms. Sandra. She and I talked about our cultures, food, favorite books/authors, and where we live. Everyone chimed into our conversations, creating such amazing memories together.
I can officially say that through volunteering, I feel a sense of community while giving back to it. Never have I noticed how much work the librarians do and how much of a big part of our community they are. Every day that week, I went to help out until I had 6.5 hours total of volunteering. So many positive experiences were gained that week. These include learning how to shelve books, making amazing friends, learning about my town’s history, and getting a sense of community when I previously felt like I was cut off in that area. I encourage everyone to volunteer somewhere in your community. You don’t have to be required to or be someone specific, just get out there! Who knows who you will meet or what you will find out about yourself doing it! I wish all the universe’s blessings upon you.
You have to love and take care of yourself before you can love and take care of anyone else.